TO Munich in 2001, you can now add Seville in 2018. Two golden nights for English football, two truly remarkable wins against members of the world elite. If “5-1 and even Heskey scored” has become shorthand for an unforgettable night in Germany, then “3-2 and Sterling got two” sums up an equally incredible evening in Spain.

Who knows what this will do for Gareth Southgate and his team of ebullient youngsters. This summer’s run to the World Cup semi-finals was thrilling, but it had to be posited against the quality of the opposition England faced in Russia. Beating the likes of Tunisia and Panama was all well and good, but having lost to Croatia in the last four, Southgate’s side were branded flat-track bullies, incapable of beating the best.

Not anymore. Not after a night that saw a top-class Spanish side reduced to rubble. England scored three goals in the opening 38 minutes, and looked like causing chaos every time they broke at the Spanish defence. They claimed their first win in Spain in 31 years, and inflicted a first Spanish home defeat in a competitive fixture for a decade-and-a-half.

Raheem Sterling ended a three-year international drought with two excellent first-half finishes; Marcus Rashford put last Friday’s double miss in Rijeka behind him with an equally composed strike. Harry Kane was back to his barnstorming best, Ross Barkley outperformed his illustrious opponents in midfield with a display that oozed style and class, and when England’s players had to show resilience and courage to repel a series of increasingly-frantic second-half attacks from Spain, they dug deep superbly. Harry Maguire, leading the defensive line in the absence of John Stones, was especially impressive.

The England fans, looking down from the top tier of the home of Real Betis could not believe what they were witnessing. The Spanish home support, stunned into silence, were even more perplexed.

This was not supposed to happen, not when Spain had outplayed their opponents at Wembley just last month, and certainly not when England were fielding their youngest side this century, with an average age of just over 23.

Southgate trusted his youngsters, selecting 21-year-old Joe Gomez and 22-year-old Harry Winks to replace the suspended Stones and Jordan Henderson, and his faith was royally rewarded.

The England boss deserves a huge amount of credit for sticking to his guns in such a testing environment. Having urged his side to cherish possession and play with pace and panache, he must have been delighted to see his approach bear such remarkable fruit.

This is an England side that will pick up experience collectively in the next few years, but the ability within it is already evident. There was defensive resolve in the early stages, with England’s players repelling a series of early Spanish attacks, and by not conceding when they were under the cosh, the visitors ensured they were able to break the deadlock themselves when Sterling scored the first of his two first-half goals.

Spain had early chances to open the scoring, but Thiago Alcantara saw his side-footed shot deflect narrowly wide and Jordan Pickford kept out Marcos Alonso’s shot with his head after the Chelsea full-back swooped at the back post to pick up a flick-on from Saul Niguez.

For a minute or two, it looked as though England were going to be swept away by a red wave of Spanish attacks. Instead, by the time the half-time whistle blew, it was the hosts that had been unable to stay afloat in the face of some incessant attacking play from their opponents.

It was Sterling that got the ball rolling, rounding off an England goal of breath-taking quality. A slick passing move enabled Kane to tee up Rashford on the left-hand side, and the Manchester United youngster bent an excellent first-time ball into Sterling’s path as he broke clear of the offside trap.

Sterling has been criticised repeatedly for a lack of composure in an England shirt, and prior to last night, the Manchester City forward had gone three years without an international goal. He produced some dreadful attempts at finishing during the World Cup finals, but that was forgotten as he drilled a superb strike across David De Gea and into the top left-hand corner. So much for being unable to keep his head.

Rashford had been wasteful three days earlier, spurning two excellent second-half chances in England’s goalless draw in Croatia, but just as Sterling displayed exemplary finishing skills in Seville, so his fellow forward also righted a few wrongs with an excellent strike.

His finish capped a superb counter-attacking move that started with Pickford picking out Kane with one of his trademark long clearances. Kane did extremely well to control the ball, turn and play in Rashford, and the Manchester United striker supplied a neat finish as he slotted into the bottom corner.

If that was dreamland for the travelling supporters, even better was to come eight minutes later. Another wonderfully-inventive attacking move, another goal. Seven minutes before half-time, and England were 3-0 up against a side that put six goals past World Cup finalists, Croatia, in their previous Nations League home game.

England’s third goal owed much to the creative talents of Barkley, who has well and truly returned from the international wilderness after establishing himself at Chelsea. Barkley’s chipped through ball took out the entire Spanish defence, enabling Kane to turn in a huge amount of space close to the byline.

Kane rolled the ball across the face of goal, and Sterling had the simple task of beating De Gea from close range. Like London buses, Sterling waited 28 matches for an international goal, only to then score two in the space of 22 minutes.

Trailing by three goals at the interval, there was always going to be a Spanish reaction in the second half. It didn’t happen instantly, but Luis Enrique’s decision to bring on attacking duo Paco Alcacer and Dani Ceballos in the 56th minute had an immediate effect.

Alcacer has been something of a super-sub for Borussia Dortmund this season, and the striker carried his domestic form into the international arena. He had been on the pitch less than a minute when he glanced home Asensio’s corner at the near post.

Suddenly, England were on the rack, and Pickford almost presented Spain with a second goal when he got himself into a mess in his own area, with Rodrigo robbing him of possession. Somehow, the Wearsider retrieved the situation with a sliding tackle, just as Rodrigo looked certain to score.

England spent the final 20 minutes camped on the edge of their own box, but with Maguire outstanding, the visitors held out until the final minute of stoppage time. Sergio Ramos headed home from close range, but with the game not restarting, the goal proved an irrelevance.